Two issues scream out in regard to linking Washington's emissions with California's ("California Dreaming," 3/31/05). First, Washington's air quality is great. Spokane hasn't had a bad air day in seven years. Even western Washington's air quality is among the best in the nation. California has geographical and population issues that do demand unique emissions standards. The passing of this bill would be devastating to local new car dealers. Additionally, to meet California's standards, $3,000 in changes would be added to the cost of each vehicle. Every budget-conscious car buyer would drive east to Idaho. Retail auto sales are the top source of sales tax revenue for both Spokane and Spokane Valley on a per business basis. Your newspaper bemoans the loss of services due to lower tax income, but the passing of this bill would decimate the already stretched city budget.
Secondly, I cannot fathom any issue where we would let California make decisions for Washington. California and wisdom are mutually exclusive. California's schools are imploding, their energy issues are catastrophic and they just recalled the governor they worshipped two years earlier... and we are letting them tell us what's best?!?
Our cities' economies and our state's sovereignty are too important. If we let California regulate our state, who will Washington look to next for guidance? Florida... France... Ralph Nader? Contact your legislator and articulate your dismay and anger at the possibility of this bill passing.
Vote 'Em Out
I agree with Jim Hightower in his March 31 column ("Repaying Debts") that the new bankruptcy laws bite.
They aren't written for us (the consumer). They're the result of a lot of kickbacks and payoffs to politicians in Washington.
But hey, not a whole lot of American laws -- other than the Bill of Rights -- are written in stone. What say we get to work, and whine to our representatives to get that legislation repealed or a better law passed? Let's get some consumer-friendly rules on the books.
Get involved with the process -- whine to someone who matters. In force. Write your representative, register to vote and kick the bums out of office. It's obvious they sold you out. So fire them -- you get to do that.
Better Than Seattle
I thoroughly enjoyed your March 24 issue featuring your annual reader's poll. Great stuff. I just wanted to let Leah Sottile know that she can count me as someone who much prefers Spokane to Seattle, and I speak as a former Seattleite who used to poke fun at Spokane ... though not as much as Tacoma, which is everybody's favorite target.
However, I attended a couple of State B tournaments in the late '90s and changed my mind. Now, after having visited Spokane a few more times since moving to Wenatchee, I'd say I prefer it to Seattle. Spokane is cheaper, the traffic is better (Division Street notwithstanding), there's more room, the people are nicer and it doesn't rain so damned much.
It's ironic that "Like Seattle in the 70's" won as Best Slogan, because that's actually what I tell my friends back home who turn up their nose at Spokane. Spokane is big enough to find something to do without getting lost in the humanity (or lack thereof). Just like Seattle in the 70's.
I want to thank you sincerely for your commentary on the movie Napoleon Dynamite ("Best New Cult to Join: The Cult of Napoleon Dynamite," 3/24/05). Bravo, my friend. My wife and I literally fell over on the couch and almost busted an organ laughing. It was the high point of our week. Every word was exactly on target. I read the article three times. I know people at age 48 maybe should be more sophisticated, but I felt like a kid again. My favorite quote was, "Tina, you fat lard, come eat some dinner" referring to the llama in the pen. This movie completely breaks out of our mundane world and gives me some hope that maybe there are some people out there who are not so boring and completely the same as everyone else. Thanks again. I am scanning the article into my PC so I can preserve it. I don't want the paper to yellow after years of keeping it around.
Steve and Cheryl Osterlund
The Real Problem
If you want to find an entitlement program in crisis, look no further than Medicare. This program has become a worst-case scenario for seniors and disabled people. The fact that the president and the Republican-controlled Congress are not trying to save a program that is really not solvent today should be another red flag for people who believe that privatizing Social Security is nothing more than a windfall for brokerage houses as well as those heavily invested in the stock market. The fact is that Medicare cannot pay its bills today. Not in 2014 or 2042 -- today.
The basic monthly premium for Medicare has increased 33 percent over the past two years to $78.20, and will increase 15 percent this year to $89.20 per month. Social Security payments will increase by just about 3 percent over the same period. In contrast, reimbursement to health care professionals will decrease by 4.3 percent in 2006. Those professionals make very little money from patients with Medicare, and it is not surprising that many physicians are not taking new Medicare patients. Asking people to pay more, then decreasing their access, and then paying less to providers is like a perfect storm for a real program crisis -- as opposed to the manufactured hysteria over Social Security. Another question remains: When there is a $2 trillion deficit from privatization, how much more are we going to ask our seniors and disabled to pay?
Just when you thought that the elderly and disabled had been downtrodden enough, here comes the Medicare Drug Bill -- a slot machine with a trio of 7s for the drug companies. Not allowing the government to negotiate prescription drug prices will result in an estimated increase to $125 per month for the monthly premium. How many more times are we going to allow Republican lawmakers to pay off their campaign financiers at the expense of some of our most vulnerable citizens?